1971 Datsun 510 – Patrick’s Corner Carver
Pat Moran’s 1971 Datsun 510 was a gift from the BAT Gods. Pat’s friend Dirk Stoop recharged his interest in “Five & Dimes”, and pointed out this 1971 Datsun 510 listing on the the classic car auction website “Bring a Trailer.” Pat had never owned a Japanese car, but he had always been curious and intrigued by 510’s primarily due to its success in Trans Am racing. In 1971 and 1972 John Morton bagged two SCCA Trans-Am series championship’s behind the wheel of the famed Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) Datsun 510. The BRE 510 was the most famous 510 to ever see a hot corner and it etched a bold image in Pat Moran’s subconscious.
Moran raced a variety of cars from 1990-2014 including Formula Vee in the SCCA series and some vintage racing with various Northern California clubs. He hung up the gloves but turned his focus to the street with a garage full of go-fast goodness.
When you’re retired from a successful career, the internet finger gets twitchy when you have the means to do a little hi-performance shopping. After engaging in a minor bidding war, Pat won the BAT auction for this white “Poor Man’s BMW.” That unfortunate 510 nickname doesn’t even come close to applying with this reworked model.
At first glance you notice the aggressive stance and wheels. Upgraded underpinnings include Tokico shocks/struts, Hyperco springs, and larger sway bars as well as all new polyurethane bushings. The wheels are VTO 15-inchers and if you look close enough you can spy the Wilwood brakes on all four corners. With sticky Yokohama tires that set up it stayed completely flat on our drive to the photo shoot location.
Along the way this thing made a heavenly noise. The L20B 2.0-liter inline-four was built at Alderman Automotive in New Castle, Delaware. It features new main and rod bearings, as well as oversized pistons, a ported cylinder head with new valves and rockers, and an Isky L490 bumpstick. Yes those are side draft Weber 45 DCOE carburetors. Combined with the Troy Ermish ceramic coated header it screams vintage performance.
Inside are black leather BMW sport seats, a new headliner, and Dynamat insulation for a quitter ride. When we sat in the car, it was ergonomically perfect. In fact, the entire car is just really well balanced.
On the outside the paint is flawless. For a superior fit and finish new chrome bumpers were installed. Insiders make a big deal out of the SSS front market lights and H4 headlights. All other exterior OE trim was well preserved.
Patrick took delivery of the car in February and it was better than the online photos – always a huge sigh of relief when buying something 3,000 miles away. “It is very well balanced, more so than cars with bigger names and price tags,” Patrick said with a big grin. “I plan to use the car for daily driving when the sun is out and some spirited runs through the Santa Cruz Mountains.”
We couldn’t think of a better plan for this sizzling sport compact.
Location Note: We would like to thank Rev. George E. Schultze for allowing access to the spectacular St. Patrick’s Seminary & University grounds. He even gave us a tour of the facility!